Presumption of the People // Numbers 14:39-45
39. When Moses reported this to all the Israelites, they mourned bitterly.
40. Early the next morning they went up toward the high hill country. “We have sinned,” they said. “We will go up to the place the LORD promised.”
41. But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the LORD’s command? This will not succeed!
42. Do not go up, because the LORD is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies,
43. for the Amalekites and Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the LORD, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.”
44. Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the high hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the LORD’s covenant moved from the camp.
45. Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.
Phony Penitence (14:39–40)
Still shaken by God’s decree that the current generation will die in the wilderness, the people mourn. Like a thief who is only sorry because he got caught, the Israelites are only sorry for the consequences they have brought upon themselves, not for the sin itself. If their repentance were genuine, they would not try to enter the Promised Land without God’s permission. These instances of disobedience in the wilderness solidify the Israelites’ habit of misplaced trust that will follow them throughout their history. This inclination toward self-reliance is a threat to our relationship with God, too. We often try to save ourselves, but God calls us to trust in Him, for He has proven His faithfulness to us through His Son.
Results of Self-Reliance (14:41–45)
Hoping to claim the blessings their sins have forfeited, the Israelites disregard God’s commands and foolishly attempt to snatch the Promised Land from the Amalekites and Canaanites. Moses is clear in his warning that they will surely die without God’s help and protection, but tunnel vision and pride blind them, and they fall in devastating fashion. No blessing of God’s can be obtained without His permission, presence, and protection—all three of which the Israelites lack as they climb the hills of the wilderness. Without these elements, our plans not only backfire but lead to our downfall.
– What actions do you take when you recognize sin in your life? Surrender your habit of self- reliance at the feet of Jesus; only He can fix what is broken.
– Recall the last time you attempted to gain something without God’s permission, presence, and protection. What was the result? Are you pursuing something outside of His will now?
A LETTER TO GOD:
Father, I am nothing without You. I have nothing in this world to gain outside of the blessings You graciously give me. Almighty God, give me a taste of what is good in Your eyes, and give me the discipline to pursue it for Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.